If you or someone you love has endometriosis, you should know about the natural options for endometriosis treatment with nutrient supplementation. The chronic flare-ups of pelvic pain that characterize endometriosis can make it an isolating—and at times, debilitating—condition. I’d like to share with you the options for nutrition treatments that have brought hope to my patients with endometriosis.
There are a variety of natural therapies that help people with endometriosis, but this article focuses on nutrition testing and nutritional therapy for patients with endometriosis.
While research has yet to make a direct correlation between nutrient deficiencies and endometriosis symptoms, supplementing with key vitamins and minerals can reduce overall inflammation, which can decrease pain.
Let’s take a look at the symptoms of endometriosis, and then go over key elements of a natural endometriosis testing and treatment protocol.
What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a painful disorder in which tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus—the endometrium—is found outside the uterus. Endometriosis is most often found on the ovaries and fallopian tubes, although endometrial tissue can seed anywhere in the abdominal cavity.
In up to 80% of women with chronic pelvic pain, endometriosis is the the cause of their pain.
Researchers aren’t completely sure what causes endometriosis, but there are many theories including estrogen dominance, environmental factors and altered tissue development.
The pelvic pain of endometriosis worsens during the menstrual cycle, and the disorder can ultimately lead to fertility problems down the road.
The key to unlocking effective natural treatment for endometriosis lies in the body’s nutrition.
Treating Endometriosis Naturally with Nutrition
Many people experiment with nutritional supplements for their symptoms because they hear that one particular vitamin or another is helpful for endometriosis. But how can a patient truly know if they are taking the right supplements if they haven’t had their body tested to find out what they are actually deficient in? Doctors often test for vitamin D deficiency, but this neglects all the other essential nutrients.
The good news is, testing is now available that can find key vitamin and mineral deficiencies in the body, which allows us practitioners to individualize a nutrition plan based on exactly what is needed.
For my patients, I recommend comprehensive nutritional analysis through blood testing. My patients appreciate the clarity it provides. I utilize a few different companies that offer nutritional testing to be sure my patients have access to the best possible tools while we create their healthcare plan.
I choose these two nutrition tests for my patients:
Spectra Cell Laboratories: SpectraCell micronutrient testing offers a broad panel of results provided from a patient blood sample, which zeroes in on nutrients that are lacking in the body. The results categorize each nutrient as Adequate, Borderline, or Deficient.
Genova Diagnostics NutrEval: NutrEval is another blood plasma sample used to parse out deficiencies in key areas ranging from Vitamin A to Zinc and everything in between.
With the information from these nutrient tests the patient can make informed choices about what supplementation regimen will help boost these deficient areas. There are 11 nutrients that I consider critically important to the well-being of my patients with chronic pelvic pain and endometriosis.
11 Key Nutrients To Focus On for those with Endometriosis/Chronic Pelvic Pain
1 | Probiotics
Probiotics are bacterial microorganisms that provide benefits including improved digestion and immunity. They improve the intestinal ecosystem, and allow for the proper removal of estrogens and wastes from the body.
2 | Essential Fatty Acids
Essential fatty acids decrease inflammation, decrease pain, and may even inhibit tumor growth. You’ve probably already heard about taking a fish oil supplement to get your DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA for healthy neurological function. But there are other key EFA’s to consider for reducing cellular inflammation as well. GLA (Gamma-linolenic acid) is an omega-6 fatty acid found in plants like borage and black currant. And ALA (Alpha-linolenic acid) is an omega-3 fatty acid found in plant oils like walnut, flaxseed and pumpkin oils.
3 | Vitamin C and Quercetin
The antioxidant power of vitamin C is well known, but it also boasts incredible benefits for enhancing immunity as well. Combined with quercetin— a common flavonoid (plant pigment) found in many fresh fruits and vegetables— vitamin C can decrease inflammation, decrease capillary fragility, and slow tumor growth.
4 | Beta Carotene
Beta carotene is the yellowish orange pigment found in a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. Not only does it have antioxidant capabilities, it can also prevent cancer by blocking early-stage tumor growth.
5 | Vitamin E
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, which can improve health in a number of ways. Proper vitamin E levels in the body can decrease painful menstruation (dysmenorrhea) by inhibiting the arachidonic acid pathway. It can also decrease tumor growth by correcting the body’s progesterone/estradiol ratio, restoring the female hormones to a state of balance.
6 | B Vitamins
B vitamins are water soluble vitamins that assist in cell metabolism. They improve the liver’s ability to process estrogens, and they happen to be anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving.
7 | Selenium
Selenium is an essential trace mineral important for healthy cognitive function, reduced inflammation, and fertility. Selenium is another important anti-oxidant, but more importantly it decreases inflammation while improving cell-mediated immunity.
8 | Magnesium
Magnesium is an essential mineral found abundantly in a healthy body, which is naturally present in many foods. Magnesium has a powerful relaxing effect on the muscles, and I often recommend supplementation of up to 500 milligrams per day when experiencing menstrual pain.
9 | Lipotropic agents
Lipotropic compounds— agents that help break down and metabolize fat in the body— include choline, methionine, betaine, and other botanicals. They improve liver function and promote the production of bile.
10 | Digestive enzymes (without betaine HCL)
Digestive enzymes break down the macromolecules in food into their smaller building blocks, in order to increase absorption of nutrients. Digestive enzymes work to decrease inflammation in the body.
11 | Pycnogenols
Pycnogenol is a liquid extract that is derived from the bark of the Maritime Pine tree, native to France. It is important for patients with painful periods because of it’s anti-inflammatory properties.